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COMM 110 - Introduction to Communication - Wilson: Evaluating Information

Scholarly or Popular?

This chart explains the different characteristics of scholarly and popular publications
Consider the... Scholarly Publications are... Popular Publications are...
Length of Articles

Lengthy, often more than 10 pages, and include areas such as abstracts, methods, results, and discussions.

Short, fewer than 10 pages, and lack structural subsections.
Audience Written for academics or professionals with advanced language. Written for the general public in non-specialized language.
Authority & Expertise Written by academics, specialists, or researchers in the field. Written by journalists or professional writers.
Bibliography Well researched and includes information about their sources in an area called References, Works Cited, or Footnotes so a reader can consult the material that the author used. sometimes researched, but sources are seldom included with the article. A good editor will check the writer's sources. 
Frequency published monthly, quarterly, or yearly. published daily, weekly, or monthly.
Inclusions not decorated with images and only have specialized advertising if any is included. They will also include reviews of the literature, charts, data, and tables along with descriptions of how their research was conducted. full of decorative photographs, illustrations, and text. They also include a lot of product advertisements.
Subjects Confined to a single, specific aspect of a subject area such as music theory, European political science, film studies, language development, or stem cell research. Often inclusive of many subjects, such as in Time, PeopleNewsweek, or focused on a single subject with the intention of entertaining such as in Wired or Sports Illustrated.
Vocabulary written with technical or specialized vocabulary unique to a subject area. written in conventional or conversational language, appropriate for most readers
Publication Process sent to experts in the subject who review the article to evaluate credibility and accuracy before being published. This process is known as "peer-review". sent to an editor who may know nothing of the topic. The editor might use a fact-checker, who also may not be familiar with the topic, to verify some information. 

What is Academic Peer Review?

What Does it Mean When an Article Has Been "Peer-reviewed?"

Generally, when we are talking about searching for articles that have been "peer-reviewed," "peer review" is the rigorous screening process that academic/scholarly articles go through before they are published in academic/scholarly journals. In academia, "peer review" is normally thought of as the strictest standard of review. To be sure you are getting articles that meet the highest standard for academic/scholarly content, you want to indicate scholarly/academic and peer-reviewed when given the option to specify.

For an article to "pass" the peer review process and actually get published in an academic/scholarly/peer-reviewed journal, it goes to an editorial review board of experts (usually PhD's or others with the highest level degrees in the field), sometimes from around the world, who examine the article carefully for content and structure. If the article involves an original research study, the research question(s), literature review, methodology, results, discussion, references, etc. are all scrutinized to make sure the study was carried out properly and the findings are valid. Often articles are sent from the peer reviewers back to the authors for revisions and corrections before they are published.